Charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent aside, these queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race are bringing the drama in a slew of gasp-worthy looks referencing iconic moments in high fashion.
Forget what you thought about the besmirched number 13, because the queens from the latest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race are shattering any superstitious notion and making luck work in their favor.
Succeeding a most storied sisterhood, as well as of being introduced to the illustrious and multi-awarded reality TV competition, the newest inductees to the halls of RuPaul’s Drag Race have their work cut out for them. With larger-than-life and hard-to-forget predecessors who have all taken over the world in different capacities since their times on the show, the racers (as RuPaul now calls them) really had to dig their heels in ye olde work room and claim their space in the mantle of the groundbreaking pop culture phenomenon-on-on-on-on.
It wouldn’t take long for the fresh crop of queens to break away from the pack, because in its 13-season history, the current iteration has clocked in a record of the most-watched episode for the show with a whopping 1.3 million viewers during its premiere night. But most importantly, this edition, which was filmed during one of the heightened contexts of the pandemic, breaks the barriers of its long-held resistance to the age-old traditions of drag with the inclusion of Gottmik, a transgender man competing for the crown. It took a while to unlearn the preconceptions, but there is no better time to make progress, finally. Now that’s crashing the cis-tem.
There are many things to look forward to from RuPaul’s Drag Race. Aside from the standard charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent, there’s also bound to be a lot of drama (six lip syncs in episode one eliminating half the competition? Gasp), emotions (Tamisha Iman, enough said), and fashion. As of this writing, the show is three episodes in and the style moments on the show have been…a journey. At this point, the queens are certainly raring and ready to show off their looks and goods, some just more successfully than others. With jaw-dropping highs and brow-furrowing lows, it is always the delight to witness the fashion hit the runway in the signature sashays of the crown hopefuls.
All this and the Ru-year has just begun? With a lot more of RuPaul’s Drag Race to get into and voraciously consume (Drag Race UK season 2 has just started airing, the Australian edition is set to begin production, and a rumored All Stars season seems all too likely), this current season is already shaping up to be one for the books. But before they speed off into the track, we took the liberty of poring through their looks so far in the competition and listing down the high fashion references articulated overtly and otherwise.
With their engines revved up and ready to go, we fully expect a full extravaganza, eleganza experience down the line. But for now, here are standout style turns from some of the queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race season 13.
Denali Foxx — Moschino Fall 2016
Following the sharp blades of another ice skating queen, Milk, Denali Foxx is gliding through gracefully thus far in the competition. For the Lady and the Vamp mini challenge, where the racers had to walk the runway in looks that are a complete juxtaposition of each other, the Chicago-based queen revealed the inspiration of her scorched sorceress vamp look: Jeremy Scott’s Moschino Fall 2016 collection based on Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire Vanities.
Gottmik — John Galliano for Dior Spring 2004
A trailblazer, an early favorite, and a passionate creative with a penchant for true artistry, Gottmik is definitely one to watch out for. From an irreverently painted face in a base of black and white, Gottmik is also turning it out fashion-wise. From the promo and entrance looks, as well as of a social media post tribute to the incomparable David Bowie, the RuPaul’s Drag Race standout stunned with a chromatic gold seahorse-inspired look on the Lamé You Stay-themed runway on the main stage. While it isn’t as a direct nod as compared to the others, this Diego Montoya number appears to be an homage to the iconic Egyptian-inspired gilded look from Dior Spring 2004 under the unparalleled helm of John Galliano.
Kahmora Hall —Bob Mackie
The Mackie doll out of the box, Kahmora Hall is a true Bob Mackie connoisseur. If you don’t know who the legendary American fashion designer and costumier is, then you better hit up the Google search right now on the memorable looks of icons such as Ann-Margret, Carol Burnett, Carol Channing, Judy Garland, Cher, Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli…well you get the gist. Anyway, aside from owning several original Bob Mackie originals that have been fitted to the specific measurements of the Chicago hopeful, this specific number is said to be a hybrid of Cher’s much talked about naked dress at the 1974 Met Gala and Britney Spears’ diamond bodysuit in the music video, Toxic.
Olivia Lux — Jacquemus
If you manage to look away from the beguiling smile of Olivia Lux, then you might have to squint a wee bit for this fashion reference. No, we’re not talking about the dress here, but rather the bag, which is a wink and a nod to the Le Chiquito by Jacquemus. The diminutive purse that barely fits anything, but has nonetheless charmed the world over, has been a consistent style statement by Olivia Lux on RuPaul’s Drag Race, having been seen on both looks on the Day To Night mini challenge, as well as on the arrival to the work room.
Rosé — Alexander McQueen Spring 2013
Like a buzz of bees to honey, Rosé has taken to Sarah Burton’s Spring 2013 Spring runway collection for Alexander McQueen. Inspired by romance of beekeeping, the assemblage from the eponymous brand gave rise to hive-like patterns, cinched waists, caged skirts, exaggerated silhouettes, and beekeeper-inspired hats that would very well be of use in our current paradigm. Taking a sip from the fancy fluted glass of recent archive, Rosé and Diego Montoya did their own spin with a dazzling red body suit, caged hip protrusion with tulle overlay, and a wide-brimmed hat on the main stage.
Symone —Gisele Bündchen for Esquire 2004
Mastering the art of referencing pop culture, both mindful of taking inspiration and appropriating it to fit the definitive drag persona, Symone really knows her stuff. A Rolodex of fun facts and nostalgic turns, the Ebony Enchantress has positioned herself as the one to really watch out for, especially in terms of fashion. From a raver in Zion from the Matrix to Lil Kim’s Interview November 1999 cover; Symone once again set our retro-loving hearts aflutter with the shingles of self-portraits on Polaroid stills fashioned as a mini dress very much in the vein of Gisele Bündchen on Esquire October 2004. Now that is how identify yourself as a superstar.
Utica — Vivienne Westwood
With a predilection for patterns, the wacky, quirky and kooky Utica sure knows how to work, match, and even clash the classics in a singular look. While there have been jaw-dropping moments thus far, such as the 60s mod lady balls fantasy and the marvelously macabre vamp look in the Lady and the Vamp mini challenge, it was the ruffled gingham outfit worn with multiple stacked hats in pretty pastels for the promo of RuPaul’s Drag Race that really calls to mind another legend in the fashion realm, Vivienne Westwood. A true irreverent with a distinct point-of-view that endures to this day, the designer’s favoring of tartans, plaid, and geometric configurations that are rendered in the evocative silhouettes of a Victorian-meets-punk aesthetic is a true statement that is passionate on all cultural fronts.